Throughout the United States, we are regarded as one of the most experienced and respected firms in protecting the interests of businesses engaged in the death care industry. For more than three decades we have advised the owners of hundreds of cemeteries, crematoria and funeral establishments regarding myriad issues affecting the industry, including regulatory compliance, professional negligence claims and employment-related disputes. Clients rely on our professional judgment and counsel in such matters as initial organization and licensure of funerary businesses including acquisitions and divestitures. We have acted as lead defense counsel in a number of class action cases including claims arising from the sale of goods and performance of services by funeral establishments, cemeteries and crematoria, FTC Funeral Rule compliance, industry standards and practices, as well as employment cases involving claims of discrimination, non-compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements and wage and hour disputes. As experienced trial lawyers, we have successfully tried to juries more cases in this field than perhaps anyone in the country.
Negligence, Breach of Contract and Related Claims
We have successfully defended (in jury trials, arbitrations and appeals) all kinds of claims brought against our numerous funeral home, cemetery, and crematory clients. Claims have included alleged mis-burial, wrongful cremation, delayed funeral, mis-identification, and improper removal, storage, embalming and disposition. To the extent our clients may have available insurance coverage for such claims, we work closely with the insurer to make certain our clients’ interests are fully protected. We regularly provide educational programs to help our clients avoid and deal with potential claims.
Transfers of Funeral Homes and Cemeteries
For many years, we have represented clients who buy or sell funeral-related businesses. We provide advice and guidance in such transactions, prepare the necessary sale, acquisition and purchase agreements, assist with due diligence, and help our clients comply with all applicable regulatory requirements needed to secure or transfer licenses, permits or certificates of authority. Whether it involves the creation of a new business (e.g., a funeral home, cemetery or crematory) or the purchase or sale of an existing one, we have handled it all.
Entity Formation and Business Operation
We are often asked to assist clients in creating new business entities that will own and operate funeral homes, cemeteries and crematoria. Our services include developing forms and procedures needed for operations, regulatory compliance and employment matters. We have assisted clients in creating new cemeteries and in de-dedicating excess cemetery property for a more profitable use. We regularly are asked to review and update our clients’ operational documents such as policy and employment manuals, cemetery rules and regulations, contract forms and disclosures, and internal record-keeping systems.
Occasionally, some clients are confronted with regulatory issues arising from annual trust fund audits, facility inspections resulting in citations or accusations, or other attempts by regulatory agencies to impose unreasonable restrictions or mandates on our clients’ operations. We have successfully defended against such matters in administrative hearings and in the process, have developed a good working relationship with and the respect of the regulators with whom our clients must deal.